Hey girls, we’re just sitting around waiting for our hurricane to get here, hatches battened, listening to heavenly MUSICA. The storm’s been downgraded quite a bit and will likely just give the Island some high waves and a little wind. Not to worry. Our house is old and strong, we have our candles, there’s chicken stock on the stove, we can make a fire, we are 60 feet above sea level, we are the lucky ones. I’m much more worried about the folks down south and our darling friends in Mexico City. Prayers for so many these days.
I have something to share, and because it’s somewhat impure in message, I will purify between each paragraph with my collection of WHITE photos . . . you will like them, they will give you some breathing space of sweetness and light . . .  so here goes:
 Somewhere around 1990 my life was changed in a totally unimagined and unexpected 
way. Just like Julia Child put sparks in my mind about food and cooking and entertaining, and Joseph Campbell excited me to look to my childhood to find “my bliss,” and Beatrix Potter showed me it was possible to consciously choose the life you want ~ a man named Ross Perot added his voice to my repertoire and changed the way I thought about our government. During the next years, I thought I’d hear about it again . . . but I never did, not in the clear lesson-learning way I heard it that day.
While flipping through TV channels, a speech to the National Press Club given by a little guy with big ears caught my attention, and despite the fact that I’d never heard of him and had zero interest in government or politics, I listened. His down-home Texas accent and common-sense words rang true, and what he had to say was an eye-opener for me, and I have to say, a shock. Even though I was over 40, I barely voted at the time. I couldn’t have told you if I was a Republican or a Democrat because when I did vote, I voted for whoever I thought was the best person. I thought I knew how our government worked, that our President and Congress were taking care of business on our behalf and didn’t need me to help. I was so wrong.
Ross Perot talked about things I never learned in school, but things that every school child should be taught, and certainly every adult should know, and what he said has rung in my ears ever since. I never forgot it. All these years later, I can still hear him.
Jane Austen’s Cupboard
Lately, the little voice that resides in my head has been urging me to tell you what he told me. “Tell them,” it cajoles constantly. “Shut up,” I beg, “they probably already know, it’s not my business.” But the voice won’t shut up. I wake up in the morning with that voice in my head, “Don’t assume everyone knows,” it says. “After all, you didn’t.”  Once more, the voice is right. The voice says that due to age and love of cooking, I have teaching credentials. It says we’re all in this together. It says I only have one life. It says you won’t hate me. It better be right. So here I go. Doing my best to put this in a nutshell. After that, you can do whatever you like with it.
Always drink upstream from the herd. Will Rogers
You know I share every heartbeat I have with you, Girlfriends, many of us grew up together. And despite my interrupting our normal tiny vases, quilts on the clothesline, apple crisp in the oven, England, home and family-connections conversations that we love so much (just for today!), this too matters, because it’s everything for home and family. I wouldn’t be a Girlfriend if I didn’t tell you.
First off, breathe easy, I promise this has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. It’s about the way our government works, because outside of the three branches we all think we know about, there’s an invisible fourth branch, and in some ways, this one has more clout than all of them. Those in charge would rather we don’t know about it, it’s gone on forever, and lurks behind every decision made in Washington, everything that affects the health and safety and pocketbook of every American family, and covers its tracks with the words Freedom of Speech.
But they really don’t like to talk about it:
“We’ll just go with no comment,” said Stephen Cohen, a Goldman Sachs spokesman.
“We are not going to comment — it’s just not something we comment on,” said Dan Whitten, vice president of strategic communications for America’s Natural Gas Alliance.
“We never comment on any of our lobbying activities or lobbying expenditures,” Joy Sims, senior communications director for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Lobbyists. That’s what they don’t comment on, but what Ross Perot taught me about. You’ve heard of them, every big company in America employs them. Foreign governments and corporations hire them. The job of the lobbyist is to talk to their voting-buddies in Congress to get laws made that favor the companies they represent. There are somewhere around 10,000 registered lobbyists working in Washington DC this year. Many of them are lawyers who’ve  worked for our government. Half of retiring senators (such as Bob Dole (R), Tom Daschle (D), and Joe Leiberman (I) have become lobbyists. A third of retiring house members become lobbyists ~ not to mention their staffers ~ all insiders who cash in (lobbyist salaries are literally more than a thousand times higher than government salaries). They work for oil companies, the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, airline industry, gun manufacturers, food industry, the Chamber of Commerce, communications industries, the movie industry, charities, you name it. These lobbyists and the companies they work for are the real people who make our laws. All in their own favor, even if it hurts us. Lately they’ve been “taking it underground,” trying to stay out of the limelight, to obscure their activities as best they can.
Public servants: Persons chosen by the people to distribute the graft. Mark Twain
Lobbyists and their corporations contribute HUGE amounts of money to election campaigns, they organize fund raisers with high stake donors (which are needed because part of this terrible game is that the average Senator must bring in $14,000 a day in order to stay in office), and they lobby both R’s and D’s. For example, after all the haranguing and back and forth, if the votes for something the gun lobby is advocating go against them in Congress, they withdraw their support from those who voted against them, and instead, give everything to the campaign of their opponents in the next election, both money and media, positive and negative. And, by doing so, they teach the rest of the congress a big scary lesson. Vote our way, or we will use all our powers against you, you will be out of a job. And so, when little children are mowed down in a first grade schoolroom by a lunatic with an AR-15, nothing is done, and life goes on like nothing happened. 💔 And why, despite huge profits during what have been relatively lean years for the rest of us, do oil and gas industries continue to get massive multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies? Lobbyists. In their ear, full time, with money and influence, every day, where we cannot be, making laws that affect everything we do, handing out subsidies with our tax money. When we subsidize extremely profitable companies we are using money that could go to schools or infrastructure or healthcare. It’s our money. It should be used for us. We think since we are the ones who elect them, they should work for us. But that’s not how it works.⚡️
Nowadays, lobbyists fix it so Congress people barely have to work. Under direction of the corporations they work for, these professional arm twisters often write the talking points for new laws ~ and to make it even easier, they’ll pull together co-sponsors for the bills, and write the bill themselves, word for word. Do the congressmen even know what they are advocating for? Not if they don’t read the bill. And what difference does it make, as long as they get re-elected, which takes money, and the lobbyists are the ones providing it.

Don’t get me wrong, not every politician caves. Some do stick up for us. Some are hard at work year-round, even when not in session (Congress will be in session 133 days this year🤢).There are many good companies and organizations that, in order to keep up and get their piece of the pie, have lobbyists too, such as the American Cancer Society. But, it’s a huge difference when they give technical assistance on a cancer funding bill versus when one of the largest banks in the world writes a bill that will give it access to public deposit insurance to fund it’s exotic financial activities. Especially when that bank has just been bailed out with our money, while they foreclosed on our neighbors. Banks are happy, that’s what matters.
But watch, when there is a hero-Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington kind of Senator or Congress person who speaks for us, wants common sense regulations for banks, big business, oil companies, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, etc, they are punished. Those corporations will use their considerable power, in commercials and other media (which more and more, they own), to vilify this person with false or misleading claims in places as seemingly benign as Facebook or on Twitter, to make them the evil one, so they can continue to do their dirty deeds, perhaps get them unelected, and use our tax money to do it. They know we don’t have time to check every story we hear.
Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
Adolf Hitler
“Too many government regulations” is the battle cry. Corporations don’t want regulations, regulations cost them money, and that’s all they care about. Regulations that help us, for health care, for safe cars, roads and bridges, for clean air and water, for food that isn’t tainted with drugs, for product safety and fairness in banking and identity protection on the web, for keeping guns out of schools; but instead, regulations are removed, and laws are written to benefit corporations. No regulations on credit bureaus means they didn’t need to protect our personal information, leaving the people (me included) to figure out what to do to keep our identities from being stolen. Now I think the government should fix this by issuing all of us new social security numbers and let Equifax pay for it. They won’t. No zoning law regulations in Houston, so the building industry had free reign to pave it over, got very rich doing it, and didn’t care that there was no place for the flood waters to go. Drug lobbyists work incessantly to reduce regulations, and now spend over 4 billion a year on TV ads ~ the average American sees 16 hours of drug ads per year (against our will) and we are now in an opioid crisis. Our prescription drugs are the most expensive in the world, while Medicare is prevented BY LAW from using its huge bargaining power to lower prices (thank you big pharma lobbyists, and chicken faced Congress who let that happen).  To hold onto their insane profits, big Pharma will fight tooth and nail against Medicare for all of us. Will our Congress let them? Probably. Who do you think will benefit if they cut healthcare? We can go bankrupt if we get very ill, lose our homes and everything we’ve saved for all our lives. Perfectly legal.
While our 22 year olds go into massive debt in order to get an education in the richest country in the world. Now they say, “tax reform,” and you get one guess to see who will benefit on that. While they shout “Freedom!” and “Clean the Swamp” and we believe them, and they go right on, swamping it up on our money.  There are thousands of examples of how they put their money making ahead of our safety. They don’t want us to vote (doing everything they can to stop us from doing so) or be educated, because if we don’t vote, if we stay ignorant about all this, they can go on whooping it up on our tax money. They’re so blatant about it these days, it’s shocking. They think they can get away with it and they do. But my darling girlfriends, knowledge is power, and we have knowledge. Tell your friends. Alert your children. Call your representatives and tell them you want money out of politics.📞
“When every man in a state has a vote, brutal laws are impossible.” 💖 Mark Twain
They tell us there’s no such thing as global warming, confuse us with argument, try to turn science, something we loved and revered as children, something that ended polio and took us to the moon, into a joke. They turned us against one another so they can go on pouring CO2 into the atmosphere, digging and fracking and tearing this beautiful gift from God, our earth, to shreds so they can add billions to the billions they already have. And the laws they write themselves says it’s all okay.
 Only one thing will stop it. It’s not term limits, that’s like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. It’s no more money in politics, period. Election campaigns that last six months, an equal playing field for all candidates. No contributions over $1,000. No contributions from corporations, no more corporate fundraisers. No lobbyists, both state and federal, (yup, we put them all out of work, too bad, so sad, your dad, get a real job). Government for the people by the people. And no, corporations are not people. People are people. And we the people can MAKE them change the laws to take the money out of politics. We really can. I am the Shirley Temple of positive thinking. I believe anything is possible.
So that’s it, I wasn’t wild about this information when I first heard it, but I’m still very glad I know. I hope you feel that way too. I don’t want it to turn you against our government, which I truly believe is the last best hope of a kookie, never-perfect world ~ it didn’t do that to me, it just made me take notice and do what I could to change it. But we need help if we’re going to do this, we need everyone to know, we the people need to be our own lobby, we need to be the ones whispering in their ears, we need to be the strongest of them all.
 “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 
Edmund Burke 
If I were running for office, my motto would be “A kitty in every house!”  The voice can leave me alone now, I did my part. What a relief! And always, always, when you’re looking for the truth in this complicated big-business world we live in, all you have to do is follow the money. And there you will have your answer. Ask yourself, “Who benefits from this?” That’s the question of the day. Here’s your diploma dear Girls, you just graduated, Government 101. Thank you, Ross Perot, you did a good thing.
“No country can be well governed unless its citizens, as a body, keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law, and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more.”  💕 Mark Twain
🎶 I am a Yankee Doodle Girl. 🎵
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming which is, as always . . . . 
Direct from the woods of Martha’s Vineyard.🍂
Besides walking in the woods, saying thank you God every day, I finished the designs for two more cups! And like the first two I showed you, these will also arrive in our Studio in early January. We are going to put them up for presale soon, and thought at the same time I would give you a link for a special card you could print out, like a promissory note, so you’ll be able to give them as gifts or stocking stuffers this year. We’re working on that. This first one is called “Girlfriends Tea” and it’s a big one, the 16 oz size.
Here’s the handle . . .
 This is the back, with a quote by our darling Nancy Luce, who could have used a few Girlfriends in her time (but now she has us 💞) . . . and on the bottom it says, “If friends were flowers, I’d choose you.”🌸
And to go with the Autumn cup, here’s Winter (in the smaller, 11 oz size, perfect for hot chocolate!)
The handle . . .
Here’s the back, and on the bottom, it says, “Not fit for man nor beast.”  Hope you like them!
Off I go Girlfriends, need to go try and put a freeze on my credit! Hope all is well with you, safe and cozy, making something delicious to share with the people you love. XOXO
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  1. Thank you, Susan! Your post was informative and well-written! You wrote about things that I am aware of, but try not to think about. It’s time to start thinking and standing up for what’s right about this wonderful country! Thank you again!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking … especially today when I see that a Maritime Lobby is right now slowing help to Puerto Rico…holding out for an obscure 1920 law. Lobbies run our lives, and we have no idea quite how much ~ while 3.5 million tax-paying Americans are in terrible straits. Thank you back Sharon! xoxo

  2. Sandy S says:

    I love your blog Susan. And agree! I’ve been with you since discovering your stamps in the late 80’s!! Thank you for all you do. On your last post there was a beautiful glass serving dish for your yum zucchini bread-is there somewhere I can purchase one? I love glass too!! Sandy (in Florida survived Irma!)

    • sbranch says:

      Lovely to hear from survivors, we were praying for you Sandy … I’m always terrible with where I got things, because 9 out of 10 times it’s at a yard sale or thrift shop where I can’t get another one! Maybe check for cut glass on etsy or eBay? There must be one like it out there somewhere!

  3. Kelly B. says:

    Thank you Susan. Knowledge is Power.

  4. Marty from NYC says:

    Please tell us mora about your lovely trip to main-antiquing and such. You produce the world’s best travelogues. Much love sent to you, Joe and the delightful Jack. Marty

  5. scottygrrl says:

    Right on, Girlfriend!!!!

  6. Dee says:

    Thanks so much for taking a stand. Not since FDR has a president stood up against corporations. Your solutions are the only way to “make America great again.”

  7. Carol B. in WA says:

    WOW! It’s so easy to get lost down all the bunny-trails thinking one of those things will change it all, but really, all those little (some not so little) side trails would just be band-aid fixes. The real root is just as you said…follow the money trail. I’ve always thought…if only the ones in congress could live just we (the average Joe) do – same health care, same perks (or lack of) maybe they would see things differently. Maybe they would see that the American Dream is fading away for so many. 🙁
    I’m glad you shared what your heart begged you to. I can hear the song from Schoolhouse Rock… “Knowledge is power!”

  8. CLM says:

    Susan, I have been a fan of your art and you for many years. As I write this I’m looking at “Vineyard Seasons” which I bought back in the 1980’s. I own a stack of additional books of yours.Thank you! The 1980’s is also the time that I realized that I needed to become more informed about our government beyond what I was taught in school. I was in my early twenties, and at the time, a mother of two, sweet little boy’s and I felt that I owed them to use my votes wisely. It was an eye-opener for me to discover how much then and since “We The People” have given away our power. You are correct in pointing out about the corrupt power of the lobbyists. I too paid attention to and voted for Ross Perot. I loved his boards; easy to follow and understand. Truth usually is clear, but rarely shows up when we are driven just by emotions. Along the way, a lesson that I learned is to not just listen to those who think the way that I do, but how valuable it is to listen to, read articles and books from those that think differently from my perspective. You can learn a lot, both about yourself and others in doing so. From this post, and a previous one that you wrote earlier in the year and from many of your friends who have commented here, I can tell which way you lean. I read what you say and I see nothing but genuine concern. I don’t agree with some of the things that you say, but that is okay. I’m thinking about those ads that you referred to, you can tell a lot about who holds the power on any given station by the adds that they run. Those people tell the stations what they can and cannot say if they want to have money coming in. When you hear news coming from any of these stations, it has been slanted, skewed, true information has been all too often omitted. An agenda has been decided and will be protected at all costs. They want to keep their power. Our job is to pull back all of the agenda’s and get to the truth. It is there, but you have to really work at it. Listening to a talking head on TV will never be the answer; EVER. These people have a vested interest and it looks back at them when they look into a mirror. You may like them, how they look, talk and think, but you should always question what they say. There are very few true journalists out there, but there are some and those are the ones that you need to listen to, but I will tell you, you won’t find them on TV. The good ones though, they will stretch you in your thinking and because of that, I encourage you and the bulk of those that have left messages here, to put the work in. You are on a mission to understand, to have impact; good for you.That’s why we are here, to have an impact. Today, I thank the Lord for the gift of another day and pray that I use it wisely. Blessings to you.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you CLM, excellent advice. My favorite information center, besides the newspapers, is Washington Journal on C-Span … C-Span is great, never commenting, just listening, letting both sides tell their stories and allowing us to decide. You can even watch the Congress in action on their stations, see it for yourself. I’ve also grown to rely on trusted fact-finders online, like Politifact, who won a Pulizer for its work, and FactCheck.org. I like to hear both sides, I’m registered Independent. All through the 90s I listened to Rush Limbaugh when he was on our local station. But I rarely listen to Fox anymore … way too much pants-on-fire comes from them. Yesterday while everyone was worried about Puerto Rico, Tucker Carlson was reading Cat in the Hat and looking for racism. Please. As I said, I like Rachel Maddow .. her in-depth reports are very helpful. You are so right, we have to dig for the truth these days, and we need to care. xoxoxo

  9. doris minear says:

    There has to be a middle ground in government. I own a small business that was passed down to me after the death of my parents. The death tax in Ca is terrible but I payed it. Then because they were small apt buildings that were built before 1980’s there is rent control. So the government limits what I can charge for rent but doesn’t control what my property taxes are, or what my water bill is.
    Now you know why small businesses or protesting high taxes, and regulations Not everyone in business is an oil company or large bank. Some of just want to make a living to send our kids to college without those huge loans, and would like to save something to retire on. I don’t expect the government to take care of me, I can do that myself, if they just didn’t tax me to death.

    • sbranch says:

      I have a small business, so I totally get it, the IRS taxes us on product that we’ve paid for but haven’t sold yet! But since I have California family and had not run into this situation, I checked on the laws for the death tax and realized why it didn’t apply to us: If someone dies in California with less than the exemption amount (which, as of 2016 was 5.45 million), their estate doesn’t owe any federal estate tax, and there is no California inheritance tax. The heirs and beneficiaries inherit the property free of tax (which, I know, your parents probably worked very hard for, sincerely, I do mean this). The beneficiaries don’t pay income tax on it either, because inherited property is not considered ordinary income. The law says that the first 5.45 million is tax free, and there’s a tax on everything more than that. So when the federal government talks about getting rid of the death tax, for the most part, it only affects the very rich … I don’t think our little businesses and the billion-dollar corporations should have to play on the same field. P.S. Just checked: “For 2017, the federal estate and gift tax exemption is $5.49 million per individual, up from $5.45 million in 2016.” So each of Billionaire Warren Buffet’s kids (for example) would get $5.49 million tax free, but have to pay tax after that. And now they want to cancel the tax that comes in after the 5.49 million, which means a loss of billions to our treasury (which would normally go toward expenses of our government), which would have to be made up somehow. I mean it really never ends!

  10. Merry K. from her cozy nook in Alabama says:

    This post is the best thing I’ve read or watched or heard all week! I applaud you for being brave and writing this.

  11. Jo'L says:


  12. Janie says:

    Thank you Susan for listening to your inner voice. I sometimes feel sad and overwhelmed when I think about the way government does business. This information helps me feel empowered to do something. I know we are all frustrated, but we can begin to make a change when we work together.

  13. Amy says:

    The world has gotten just way too complicated. And America has grown way too big. The Founding Fathers probably never conceived of it. So now trying to reach the Little Man and get them to care and get them to stand up together and say “Enough! We’re not going to take it anymore!” is impossible. It makes me feel hopeless sometimes and it reminds me why I didn’t have kids! Who wants to explain this all to them? Who wants to raise them in such a terrible time in history?? (At least I think it is). Bless all the mothers out there that have to navigate the minefield of this world and try to raise kids with morals and intelligence.

    BUT. It’s not black and white. The “big bad” oil and gas industry employs hundreds of thousands of people in this country. And they aren’t all Earle Halliburton. Most of them are middle class folks with families to support. Who will give them jobs if we take away their industry? (I won’t get into the fact that everyone in America uses oil and gas every single day of their lives). It’s one thing to say “These companies are evil”. It’s another to look at the reality of it. They are providing good jobs to people.

    Who knows what the solution is. Except to vote, vote, vote. It’s nice to know we always have your beautiful little corner of the world in lose ourselves in, Susan! You are our modern day Beatrix Potter.

    • sbranch says:

      I feel what you feel Amy. I don’t advocate taking away the oil and gas industries, but already there’s talk they’re beginning to invest in renewable energy (because as you know, oil and gas are finite) ~ already the solar and wind companies employ more people than oil and gas. Things change, and we have to change too. The buggy whip business had to adapt to changing times. I don’t say these corporations are evil, but money is too much their reason for living . . . they do employ millions, but the top three oil companies made almost 20 billion in profit last year, that’s after taxes, after payroll, after every other thing. Couldn’t five of those billion go toward this country? And couldn’t just one more be divided amongst the regular employees, HERE’S payroll for 10 CEOs of Oil Companies. That would leave them with a mere 14 billion in profit and make the world a better place. I know that’s dreamland talking! But why not? Thank you Amy, it makes me happy to think how much of a difference Beatrix Potter was able to make in her lifetime. I’ll never get there, but that won’t be for not trying. Thanks for trying with me!

      • Darlene in Ohio says:

        I have to disagree!!
        Amy describes our dilemma extremely well. Your buggy whip explanation is great and oh how I wish those billions could go toward helping others. On this I agree, but:
        Over thirty years ago, when one of the job-creating fossil fuel companies learned from their research that their product was contributing to global warming, they spent millions of dollars by creating more jobs by hiring writers and scientists to write misinformation and scientific mumbo jumbo to confuse people and cause doubt about global warming/climate change. The tried to delay any action and lobbied against any regulations being put forth as solutions.
        They chose to continue to destroy life on earth.
        Scientists predicted for some time now that hurricanes will increase in their intensity due to the warmer ocean water and more humidity in the air caused by climate change. I’ve watched and read about the recent hurricanes.
        Under the word evil in my dictionary, I find: morally reprehensible; arising from bad conduct; causing discomfort; causing harm; pernicious. In my book, this company and those like it are Evil. That’s with a capital E.

        I don’t like to be disagreeable, but I have three grandsons, and I want them to live on a beautiful, healthy planet.

        • sbranch says:

          I don’t know exactly where the disagreement is! Just like cigarette companies hid the bad news from us for years. Corporations still hire mumbo jumbo ad writers. All for the money. We’re on the same page Darlene … blessings on you and yours.

  14. Jacque Kvanvig says:

    Thanks for sharing about Ross Perot. I remember his campaign, but was, in truth, not paying attention to politics during that presidential election. I much appreciate your thoughts and gentle presentation. What saddens my right now is that we seem to have lost our unity as a nation. Whether we agree with each other or not, we’ll all lose if we don’t stay united. You’ve shared some sound ideas!

    • sbranch says:

      Have you been hearing how the Russians are trying to divide us via Facebook and Twitter? This recent NFL thing for example, their bots were taking both sides of the argument, sticking their two cents into a place they don’t belong, using hash tags #takeaknee, AND #BoycottNFL … trying polarize us with divisive political content, blowing all of this up way bigger that it already was. A race war would suit them just fine. The bottom line is, we really can’t believe very much of what we hear, we have to dig deeper. Did you hear the one about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place … the store owners where harassed and then a guy who believed the the story went there with a gun and shot it up? Many people believed it . . . it’s way out of hand. Thank you Jacque.

  15. Debbie Boerger says:

    Wasn’t the weather lovely in Maine? I know you enjoyed your visit. Have you been to the Maine State Gardens on the Pemiquid Pennsula When it’s clear at night, I stick my head out of the roof window and feel AWE. When we joined our next door neighbors at 5:PM it was still warmish. By 9 PM it was downright chilly outside. Now I’m saying AHHH to a fire tonight for supper with our friend, who made a chicken pot pie to bring. Tuesday, another friend made a big roast chicken dinner and dropped it off. Surely helps me feed the Husband while I improve, and we have the TV. I’m making an apple pie with our own apples. These are from a wild tree that we picked to nurture a number of yrs ago. Tom rakes up absolutely all of the windfall and puts it into the big compost heap. Daily food wast goes into the cranking drum, with some booster “bugs” now that it’s cooler.

    Sadly, I had to cancel our much anticipated trip to the Cotswolds and a bit of Borders Wales. It’s only fair so those innkeepers don’t lose out on the $ for those nights.

    I completely agree with you about our For Hire Government. All of it. Funny how the Senators and Representatives answer your email when it’s an “Atta boy or girl”. When they vote to line their own pockets as well as those of the so-called Handlers, no response to mail or phone calls. Sickening.

    I could just imagine Jack’s purrrrr when you walked in.

    Love and Thanks to you,
    Debbie in Maine

  16. Cindy says:

    Bravo! It’s like many of us ‘know’ about the awful state of affairs in our government but choose to ignore. Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      Ignoring is getting us into a really bad place . . . it makes our congresspeople believe we like the status quo. Thank you Cindy.

  17. Annette says:

    When you speak from your heart, you touch mine. Blessings for all and when they come count them twice!!

  18. Carol Leatherman says:

    So beautifully said – Ross Perot was never going to get elected to anything because he told the truth they do not want us to know. Gotta admire that in a person! I sure do –
    Sad, that is how I feel about our country, and the shape it is in today. What happened to doing the right thing because it is the right thing, not because of any money or power or status it might bring? Lobbyists – they only exist because we allow them to – and what happened to our elected officials? Did they forget we got them that job?

    • sbranch says:

      No, they don’t want us to know. Luckily me and my blog are way under the radar, which is perfect, because I would not like to go through what they put these people through. We are lucky good guys still run for office at all … they are demonized when they try to tell the truth. Lobbyists do have support from the supreme court, it’s quite a little system they have going. HERE are things we can do . . . We are going to have to care, and they are going to demonize anyone who does. Get ready! You can talk to candidates running for office, new or incumbent, and make sure they are on board with you, bring it up in Town Halls . . . xoxoxo

  19. Heather Roberts says:

    Wonderfully written! In our small town we have fought off Walmart from taking the stars from our night sky, we now will be cramming into our tiny town office next month to let our voices be heard once again, that “No”, we do not want other corporate businesses coming to our beautiful town and taking away what we hold aesthetically dear, the all mighty dollar does not always ring true when big corporations and greedy selectman (in our case) want to fill their coffers. I am off my soap box now, but thank you Susan for writing this brilliant post.

    • sbranch says:

      Good for you! Taking stars from the night sky! I adore little ma and pa stores, and especially all the small towns we used to visit as we drove across country that are closed down and boarded up now. Was just thinking, the corporations didn’t just steal the little towns, they stole community, family owned business, where we’d meet and greet. Stay on that soapbox Heather. As we recognize what’s been going on, we have to tell our friends. xoxo

  20. Sandy R. says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you for the most informative blog post on our government and lobbyist, that I have read.. I have been thinking for sometime now that our government is corrupted and only do things that will help pad their pockets. They seem to think taking away things or re-writing the law is going to benefit, but who are they going to benefit? Most likely it will be our law makers themselves. I think they have all gone to Hell in a hand basket!! It’s a sad, sad time for us right now!!

    • sbranch says:

      Our town governments could never get away with the kind of thing that goes on in Congress … way too much daylight! Anyone actively working against what’s best for the town would be drummed out immediately! But they’ve figured out how to hide things in Washington! If they vote to benefit the corporations, the corporations give them money to be reelected. Has nothing to do with what’s good for the people. We can make it better, Sandy, everybody grab your flashlights! xoxo

  21. Marilyn says:

    I couldn’t agree more, what you have said out loud is so true. Follow the money and you will find out the answers. Love your blog, keep on talking. Happy fall the leaves are beginning to turn here in the Pacific NW, love it.

    • sbranch says:

      We aren’t getting out of the sixties this week, with sun every day . . . yummy! xoxo Thank you Marilyn.

  22. betsy from San Bernardino says:

    Hi Susan! I never knew about the wonderful work our taxes do locally until my husband worked for the Agriculture and Weights and Measures department. People do not realize how much is done by these workers. They make sure scales are correct, for example at the recycle stations, and gas pumps. Prices are checked everywhere so that what is marked is same as what was rung up. They enforce pesticide safety so that the workers and you are safe when you get your house tented etc. They try to keep agriculture safe by constantly checking neighborhood trees for disease carrying insects that threaten our groves and vineyards. This is just a few examples. All over our country helpful regulations are the daily work of many and I am grateful and amazed at how much is done! We have so many blessings. When some one tells me they are against all regulations I figure they just take our daily safety for granted. Many regulations were put in place after a terrible tragedy had occurred. Thank you for a thoughtful post! I’m a fellow member of the Beatrix Potter society and locally we are looking forward to celebrating Teresa Law’s 100th birthday. She is an inspiring anglophile and a long time member of the society. Her shop in Oak Glen, CA carries adorable things from Beatrix’s books! She is full of stories and wisdom. I wish you both could meet! Mucho love always!❤

    • sbranch says:

      Beautiful Betsy, that’s what I was trying to say about regulations. To be fair, I’m sure there are frivolous regulations on the books, but all I ever hear is when things like Equifax happen, or poison water in Flint, or when the water comes out of your kitchen faucet and lights on fire. That’s what they want to do when they say smaller government, get rid of your husband’s job, but no words about lobbyists! Tell him Yay for him, thank him for working on behalf of the people. I don’t know Teresa Law, but she sounds wonderful. Please wish her a happy birthday for me! I wish I was going to be out there. Love to you Betsy. xoxo

    • Sher in Idaho says:

      I, too, appreciate all those government workers are who truly making our towns, cities and counties run smoothly and protecting us. This last winter, which was particularly long and snowy, I felt like running out to the street at 6am each morning with pom-poms to cheer the man driving the county snow plow! Hooray, for the snow plow!! Gooo, snow plow!!

      His O’Dark Thirty visit each day it snowed allowed thousands to get to work, go to school, etc. He was my hero!

      Susan, your blog and books are a lovely haven of beauty and the importance of home yet, I think all of us lovers of beauty and home need to hear what you’ve written about lobbyists *because* it is really up to all of us to do our part in our own little sphere God has placed us in to police the misuse of taxpayer money and of legislation that harms us in favor of the companies/nations/organizations the lobbyists represent.

      Thank you!

      • sbranch says:

        I know, I look outside during blizzards, before it’s even light, our town heroes are there in the blowing snow and ice making the roads passable. Quite amazing. Best sound in the world, the sound of snow plows going . . . like hearing your parents voices in the living room as you’re falling asleep. You know someone is up and taking care of things. Thank you for reminding me Sher, won’t be long now! And you’re so right, it’s up to us… xoxo

        • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

          I have to admire our guys working the snow plows this past winter, we had over 4 feet of snow dumped on us and getting in and out was a chore all by itself. these poor guys were working round the clock to reopen the highway to town (199 the redwood highway)and trying to open up the roads, they were working nonstop 24/7 for weeks. some of us would get out there with huge thermos of hot coffee and mugs and donuts and see to it they got something hot to drink and something to eat. I know when winter comes this year I will be ready for them with hot coffee and donuts again. we were lucky we had a wood burning stove so I could heat up an old camp coffee pot on the stove as we were without power for 4-5 days. it was fun, and thank heavens for the snow plow drivers.

  23. Mary Rang says:

    Well said!

  24. Becky Daugherty says:

    BRAVO, Susan!

  25. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Dearest Susan – loved your blog so much I had my husband read it too! BRAVO! Then I went and watched Hayley Mills as Pollyanna in the ’60s classic. I feel very much more comfortable in that world. As I write I am listening to the terrible Las Vegas tragedies!!!! Too awful!

  26. Julie Huff says:

    Agree, Susan. It’s frustrating and scary.

  27. Anne Miller says:

    Hello, Miss Beautiful Light….
    Thank you for this post. I went back to it this morning….The gun lobbyists in this country control so many of our lawmakers. We need to resist the NRA. The responsible gun owners I know are as unhappy as I am that the NRA blocks gun safety laws.
    I vacationed in Las Vegas over Spring break with my daughters in 2012. We stayed at the beautiful Mandalay Bay resort. My Daughter Katie reminded me that we walked through the concert venue (site of the massacre) on our way back from Easter Sunday Mass.
    The Australians made radical and sweeping gun reforms after the Port Arthur Massacre. I pray that our country can do the same. We need to remain busy contacting our lawmakers. PEACE.

  28. Hilary M. says:

    Susan – This is a terrific blog entry and an important topic for everyone to be aware of and become active about. We are a government “of the people” and we all need to participate. Thank you for writing this.

  29. Thank you, Susan, once again. I feel so stupid, but now so enlightened. You for president!

    • sbranch says:

      Never feel stupid, it’s a twisted web they weave…they make government as difficult as the tax system so nobody can figure anything out.

  30. Deborah says:

    Susan, I just read this blog post yesterday. This morning I read this article from a congressman about how the NRA lobby strangles any gun control.


    You are absolutely correct in your entry. Not only at the national level, but at the state level as well. I live in Texas—home of Ross Perot—lobbiests run the legislature. But on a happy note, there is a wonderful science museum named after Ross Perot.

  31. Heather says:

    Thank you so much for this post, Susan. Sadly, it’s even more relevant after Sunday’s horrific events. Many people are saying that this is not the time to talk about gun control/regulations, etc. It’s exactly the time. Thank you for bringing us this information. I hope it reaches people who need to hear it.

    • sbranch says:

      They do that every time there is something horrific, they said it after the little kids in Sandy Hook, “now is not the time” ~ baloney, they can’t get away with it anymore. Now is exactly the time. We should scream and have a fit. It’s something like 75% of the people want some sort of gun control, even NRA members don’t want to see silencers on guns, can you imagine if this guy had a silencer? They would never have found his room. Shhhh, Sue, relax. Okay, but probably not. xoxo

  32. DebbSfromMinnesota says:

    You “preach” it sister Susan in the best way! I’m glad you are not living in fear of “offending” someone – especially those that have been duped by the whole Trump philosophy… Just read his bio and it is so evident that he is all about greed for himself. I prefer a simpler more loving, connected to goodness way of life.. Its definitely a wake up time for ALL of us. What a lovely place the world could be if we were are encouraged to just stand united and maybe hold hands across the nation, or perhaps the world.. There is power in TOUCH! There is comfort and hope in your words – I respect and adore you. Warmly, DebbSfromMinnesota

  33. Joanne Wood says:

    Wow Susan. Thank you. I and others I know are feeling helpless these days – being simply people living our everyday lives dealing with everyday problems. I know that sometimes when I voice similar issues to what you have expressed, I get that certain “look,” and then ignored, or worse yet, a friend actually yelled at me. I know earlier you specifically said you did not want to get into the actual politics of it all, but I have to say that there’s been a turn to legitimizing aggressive, reactionary, self-serving solutions to perceived wrongs.
    When I see public response to present day horrors – like the latest in Los Vegas – then I see the true heart of our fellow citizens; no thought of individual differences, just people helping people. Among the voices trying to be heard for a different America was Tom Brokow [correct spelling please]. It’s hard to visualize how our small voices will be heard enough to make a difference. But I’m willing to give it a go. Thanks for YOUR voice.

    • sbranch says:

      I think many people imitate talk radio show hosts ~ instead of discussing issues, they do personal attacks and ridicule ideas and people who think differently. Where do we get with that? But people get so wound up with the attacking, kept so busy by those who work to keep us divided, they miss entirely what is actually going on. Thank you Joanne. xoxo

  34. Sandy E. says:

    I scream, I have fits, I cry, I vote, I joined and support Sandy Hook Promise…I could go on–but nothing changes and it’s discouraging and disheartening and just plain sad.

    …but thank you for opening our eyes a little.

    • sbranch says:

      I believe there are more of us all the time, and that will make a difference, I just know it will. We just can’t give up.

  35. Suzette Shoulders says:

    Susan, I just read this blog post, so happy I didn’t miss it altogether. Lately my life has been TOO busy! Anyway, wanted to say how MUCH I appreciate your clear thinking, wish YOU had a ‘talk show”! : ) My husband has been saying since that Supreme Court decision …”follow the money” … And I think of the quote ‘the love of money is the root of all evil”! I often wonder why some politicians don’t get it that if we roll back all environmental protections, THEIR grandchildren will be choking to death and living shorter lives, too, not just mine! A big dis-connect in their thinking about the country, to be sure. I could go on, but I won’t, I have to go face the SCALES at TOPS! Anyway, CHEERS For you for saying what was in your heart and mind, and thank you for being YOU! Hugs from Oregon, Suzette

    • sbranch says:

      That is the Number One best thing to say: Follow the Money. It took me a while to remember to use it, but since then, whenever I’m confused, I think of that and it’s never failed me! All the answers seem to lie at the end of the money trail. Sad but true. A big dis-connect is so right. You can’t help but ask, what is WRONG with these people. (Not all of them, we have to remember, some manage to hold on to their true quest for doing good, important to ferret them out so we never lose them!) Love 💞 To you and yours, Suzette. xoxo

  36. Janella says:

    Have you read Al Franken’s new book “Giant of the Senate”? He does a good job of explaining how Washington works (or doesn’t work). He’s funny and interesting and it’s nice to know there’s at least one good guy in office. I enjoyed the audiobook very much.

  37. Nanci says:

    I have always known lobbyists run our government and it is sickening! I know the founding fathers didn’t want our leaders to be bought and paid for. Reading your post made me have a big old knot in my chest because I fear it is too late for things to change. Just how can you get a law passed to rid our government of lobbyists when they are the ones really in control?? I am truly beginning to not like our government anymore. It makes me angry and sad. However I did laugh when you wrote “too bad, so sad, get a real job!”…🤣 Thank ͏y͏o͏u for spreading the word.

    • sbranch says:

      Right now all they’re talking about is the influence the NRA has on our lives, over our legislators . . . the top recipient got over 7 million dollars from them, next one down got over 6 🤑. What they don’t talk about is that it’s the exact same thing with the Pharmaceutical industry, the insurance companies, oil companies . . . on and on. How much TOTAL does each Congress person get? No WONDER there is nothing left #forthepeople. All their votes go to make these lobbyists happy, and not for us. Lobbies are so strong, they can threaten the career of any good guy who comes into office with the idea of making a difference. It’s their way or the highway. They really have to go. Thank you for spreading the word too Nanci.

  38. Becky says:

    Thank you for this post! This was informative and sadly so true. Knowledge is power though and we all need to stand up for no money in politics. It would make all the difference.
    Thank you again.

  39. Minette says:

    Thanks so very much for your post and your courage to speak-up on what I think is one of the most important issues for which we need a robust public debate NOW. We do indeed need to take the money and sinister manipulation out of politics and use our power of vote to let our politicians know that doing the right thing is no longer an option–we need to for it for our future,, our children. You continue to be a creative and spiritual inspiration and now are also a beacon of reason and hope for all of us who are struggling to remain optimistic.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Minette, I would love to see that public debate. I think about it quite often these days. Take good care of you, breathing and all of that good stuff. xoxo

  40. Tina says:


  41. Becki Hardman says:

    EXCELLENT! I hope more and more people speak out like you have. I live just a couple of towns away from Newtown CT and I can tell you no one around here has ever been the same. My daughter lives in MA and has been in several peaceful marches to make her voice heard along side her friends and strangers who soon become her friends. I am a child of the 60’s and I know how one voice becomes a multitude of voices that force change if that one voice is brave enough.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve never been the same either. Permanently damaged. In my own, doesn’t count a bit compared to others, way. Thank you Becki. xoxoxo

  42. Debra Sewell says:

    I love this post. I lived in Maine and raised my 3 grown kids in Waldoboro ME, little village off RT one. One tiny Town from Damiscotra ME. All 3 of my kids were born at the little amazing village hospital in Damariscotta. I have house down in woods and heated With ONLYvfurwood for 35 years. Sold it and moved as ME too expensive now. I have only my retirement SSI and small PT job and cannot afford ME. So live in FL which though many cons I can afford by myself . Family all in ME. I loved seeing the Wuscasset bridge and Maine color . Great great road trip.

    Thanks for taking us.

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